'Absolutely epic' crab migration continues on Christmas Island

The Christmas Island crab migration continued on Tuesday as millions of red crabs continued emerging from the center of the island for their annual migration journey to the ocean on the island off the coast of Western Australia.

"This year's migration has just been absolutely epic. The roads have been a seething mass of red crabs. It's caused traffic jams on this small island and people having to get out of their cars and rake them out the way," Christmas Island National Park natural resource manager, Brendan Tiernan, told Reuters from Christmas Island.

Tiernan said that the unique ecological phenomenon of millions of crabs making the migration to the sea to spawn occurs no where else in the world on such a scale. 

"Sometimes we call it red crab island, the island's community acknowledge just how important red crabs are to our ecosystem and to our economy, to tourism," he said.

After mating, the male crabs journey back to the jungle first as the females stay behind in the burrows for about two weeks to lay eggs. Each female crab can produce up to 100,000 eggs, which she will deposit into the ocean. 

"You get some very different reactions, some people were quite freaked out by the fact that they're surrounded by millions of crawling arthropods, whereas other people are just emersed, basically do a little red crab angel, they'll lie on ground and let themselves get covered in red crabs. It is really one of those things that you just can't see anywhere else on the planet, just life at this scale," said Tiernan.

The Christmas Island red crab is endemic to the island and protected by law. 

(Source: Reuters) 

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